As a small business owner, there will be times when you need to speak in public – something many of us dread. With this in mind, we look at some of the most commonly committed public speaking mistakes to avoid.
These tips were written by the Company Bug team, based on advice provided by Dorothea Stuart of Toastmasters International.
Make sure you remain visible
It may be tempting to hide yourself away behind dozens of slides or demonstration products, but the best thing to do is remain clearly visible to your audience, and keep your visual aids as subtle as possible.
Keep focused and confident
Dorothea told us: “I watched as a speaker walked to the stage, looked at his audience and let out a huge sigh. He made the audience members feel they had caused him a big problem by turning up.”
Make sure you appear confident (even if you don’t feel it), and don’t let the audience bother you.
If you don’t take the time to fine-tune your presentation, you won’t be able to fool your audience and ‘wing it’. Of course, you may decide to adapt your pre-planned presentation to suit an audience or occasion, but give yourself sufficient presentation time.
Don’t bore the audience with facts
Facts are important – they can illustrate a point so simply, but if you relay too many facts / sales figures / milestones, you may lose your audience.
Do you love public speaking too much?
For those of us who fear speaking in public, is may come as a bit of surprise to find that some people actually flourish in front of an audience. This in itself could be a potential problem. Be charming, and entertaining, but make sure you don’t overstay your welcome and stick to your agreed time.
Do you remember the first time you heard yourself on a recording, and didn’t recognise your own voice? Why not record yourself delivering a pitch, and find out if your voice is a clear as you think it is. Dorothea said: “Listen to recordings of your speeches, notice the patterns and take corrective action. If it’s really bad consider having some voice coaching.”
It may be hard to deliver your pitch or speech at precisely the right volume from the start, but one thing you don’t want to do is shout at potential clients.
Who is your audience?
One of the most important tips public speaking experts always give is to carefully consider the audience you are delivering your presentation to. Rather like a press release, you should tune your message to the person / people who are the intended recipients of your pitch. So, make sure you know what type of audience you will be imparting your knowledge to, and tailor your message accordingly.
Liaise with other speakers
If you’re delivering one of several presentations at an event, it will help enormously if you know who else is going to be talking, and what they are going to be talking about. You don’t want reiterate what someone else has already said, but you may want to refer to comments made by previous speakers.
Don’t forget you have an audience
If you’re not used to public speaking, or don’t enjoy performing in front of an audience, you do run the danger of becoming introspective, and almost forgetting that your are talking to a group or people. There is an element of performance to all types of public speaking, so why not record yourself practicing your delivery, or ask family and friends for their honest view of your delivery style, so that you can fine tune your style.
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